Scout - six months

We've lived over half a year with our girl. 

It's been both slow and fast. Joyful and full of soul-growing hardship. I wouldn't change a thing. 

In some ways, the first twelve months of your baby's life can feel like riding a train. You sit there in your seat and the immediate surroundings inside the train car don't change all that much as you travel. And perhaps you are so focused on being inside the train that you don't think much about how fast you're traveling. Sure, you can stare out the window at the earth rolling by and perhaps you even occasionally notice a gently sway that conveys movement. But then, full stop.  All of the sudden, you arrived. We're at six months already?!

"Is she always this happy and content?"

That question get asked a lot anytime people interact with Scout. Our answer: "Yes! Unless she's hungry or tired, she really is this sweet most of the time." 

Everyone who meets her is smitten and so are we, indescribably so. 

She's got mama's eyes and daddy's hair. Behr is her favorite playmate (the feeling is adorably mutual). She squeals and scoots and laughs all day long. Her favorite thing to do to us is reach out her pudgy paws, arms outstretched, and proceed to slap our faces with vigorous delight. 

We love watching her grow and pack on those rolls (one pediatrician referred to her as "a very firm baby" Haha!). We love how effortlessly she fits into our family.

We love her. 

I hold our girl in my arms and can't help but think of the verse, Luke 4:38: "..give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your lap..." 

She is immeasurably more than we hoped for all along. We still haven't recovered from the wonder of being gifted our Scout. 

Dear Mimi, 

You are the definition of delight. Your mama is usually fairly confident about stringing word together to describe things, but when it comes to you, all the appropriate adjectives fall short. So, sometimes I don't even try and instead just focus on memorizing every precious part of you at this age. Your brother can't get enough of you and your daddy has a special voice reserved just for you. The way you light them up causes me to pause so often and think, "These are the years, the ones building the foundation of our family's history. We're living out those golden memories right this minute." We thank Jesus everyday for the gift of being entrusted with you. Please don't ever stop being the bright, soft determined little light that you are. 

Love, Mama, Daddy and Behr. 

(for a fun side-by-side comparison, you can view Behr's six month portraits here)

needful

One week into my Instagram detox and I'm wondering why I didn't do this sooner. 

I can't pinpoint where it all started but the simple act of getting to the end of the day was like slogging though swampland. I felt weighted down emotionally, physically and emotionally. When I start feeling like I don't have enough hours in the day or that there's not enough of me to go around, I have to ask what it is I need to let go of. 

Instagram was at the top of the list. 

The bottomless scrolling, the buzz at the back of my mind telling me I "needed" to post something, it was draining me. So, when I saw that Amanda Watters was hosting a a Rest Retreat from social media on her Homesong blog, I knew it was time. The new year began and, after months of feeling the nudge break from Instagram, I did just that. I disabled the little app on my phone and instantly felt lighter. 

Yes, I've missed it, but not in the way I thought I would. 

Lately, I've been asking myself the question: Is it needful? 

I've been asking it when it comes to the objects in our home (do we really need this?) 

I've been asking it about what I eat (is this type of food necessary or can I reach for something healthier?)

And obviously, I'm asking it about what things I allow to occupy my time (is this a necessary activity, can it be let go?)

Right now, Instagram does not fall into the category of needful.

What does fall into that category:

  • Prioritizing my quiet time with Jesus which has been inexcusably neglected. 
  • Getting back to making nourishing meals for my family. 
  • Taking the time to pursue writing; to hone my craft.
  • Spending unhindered time with my children. 
  • Organizing our home and getting rid of anything that does not, as Marie Kondo put it, "spark joy". 

It feels weird to post on this blog and not also share about it on Instagram (where the bulk of my audience is). I worry that no one will see this post but me, but maybe that's ok? Maybe I need to write for me first and not for what I think will get me the most attention. I might not be posting daily updates for awhile and I'm ok with that. For now, I'll be sitting here, at our dining table turned temporary office space and working out what needs letting go and what is worthy of pursuit for our life. 

Overall, things are quieter around here.

I like the sound of that. 

how to have a (brave) merry Christmas

"I'm just not looking forward to the holidays this year. I feel jaded by the whole thing."

When the holiday season kicks off with this type of conversation between you and your sister. 

How does one celebrate the joy of Christmas on days when your heart is too heavy? As if it's sitting stone-like in your chest, dark and cold. Afraid to beat again. Afraid of getting hurt.

Just afraid. 

This year, the search for our Christmas tree led us to a beautiful farm ten minutes from our home. It was oddly warm for this time of year. The sun draped on the shoulders of watchful hills as we sized up potential trees. 

Sometimes it feels like nothing will ever size up around here. 

How do you wrestle with the truth that the Christ-babe came to heal when  people you love are still laying busted and bleeding from living  life in a broken world? This weight in my chest aches. I've been wide awake at night lately crying out to Jesus for this one to find freedom, for that one to be healed, for this beloved one to rise from the ashes. 

Everywhere I look, we're cutting down trees to string up at home. All the while, lives I know are being sliced down and strung out too.

It seems folly doesn't it? To march outside during the onset of Winter; to celebrate anything when the whole of nature is quite literally dying around us. But maybe that's just exactly when we need to celebrate the most. Maybe it's less about waiting for the " happy feelings" to show up, and more about preparing for Christ to arrive. 

Perhaps preparing--in hopeful, stubborn faith--for the miracle to come, becomes part of the miracle itself. 

The grass is cold under our feet. I watch as a woodpecker lands in a walnut tree to my right. He flies off, bobbing in the wind like a cork in water.  I think maybe a lot of us are just trying to stay afloat too.

Behr looks at tree after tree and does that crinkle-face he makes when he's amused. For some reason, a forest of fir trees was something completely hilarious to our boy.  Watching him sparks a bit of light into the shade cast over my spirit. "A joyful heart is good medicine..." -Proverbs 17:22

Scout rides in the hollow on my chest, the same place Behr used to.  Enjoying her cosmic eyes and deliciously round cheeks remind me of how much I longed for days like just like this last year. 

We decided on our tree just as the day's last light was winking into the West hollows surrounding the farm. I stopped myself for a minute. Breathe this in. I thought.

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:4-7

I have to pocket light and truth when they're unavoidably evident. That way, on the days when darkness paces thick on the edges, I can have a match to strike for the torch I need to wield it off. 

As I'm writing this, our tree is sitting just there over my left shoulder. Once we stood it up in the living room, we laughed. Out on the farm, we didn't realize how big it was. 

Isn't the hope Jesus offers like that? It's more vast than we realize and kind of ridiculous in how it keeps showing up no matter how bleak things feel. 

So here I am, heart a bit heavy, spirit a bit wearied, but hopeful. People I know may be hurting, my anxiety might still be robbing me of confidence and rest, but the brave cheer of Christmas (of Christ coming, hallelujah!) is just what I need. And maybe you do too. 

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined." Isaiah 9:2